“From the Cutting Floor: The Devil’s Defeat”
A couple of Sundays ago, while I was preaching here at Northpoint, it occurred to me that, for the sake of time, I was going to have to make some unexpected edits to my exposition. In fact, I didn’t assume my normal spot behind the pulpit until about eleven minutes behind schedule, so I was already under some pressure. (Not that I’m holding a grudge or anything!) Actually, my delayed start was for very good reasons. That morning we had an amazing testimony of God’s faithfulness to a young family through his Body, the church, a unifying prayer of confession, and the music worship was particularly soul-nourishing. Frankly, I was sad that time had flown by so quickly.
Nevertheless, since those meaningful elements encroached upon my sermon time, I knew that I would have to find something to eliminate. What would I leave on the proverbial cutting floor? I had to make a decision quickly. Even though I sensed that the Spirit of God was at work through his Word (as he always is!), I noticed that it was nearing noon. And some faces were fading. Some heads … were … getting … heavy. “Is he snoring,” I thought to myself as I spied one especially loud sleeper.
I had just explained the significance of Peter’s great confession (“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”) and moved into a discussion on Jesus’ beautiful promise: “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This is where I’d have to abbreviate my comments. I did make the point that the Messiah would come and conquer in a very different way than Peter or any other disciple expected. Yes, Jesus would go to Jerusalem to bring about victory but it would not be by ascending a throne, it would be by ascending a cross. On the cross, Jesus would demonstrate his power and victory over all the forces of evil. Indeed, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them” (Colossians 2:15).
Since I didn’t get a chance to share this then, let me pass along the stirring words of Donald Macleod regarding Christ’s victory over evil and his protection of his church:
“These demonic forces are . . . superhuman, personal, intelligent forces led by a great mastermind implacable in hatred, unwearying in scheming, and terrifying in ferocity. Wherever there is evil, it is his work. Wherever there is good, it provokes him to fury. Sometimes he is violent as a lion, sometimes wily as the serpent, and sometimes as plausible as an angel of light. But though he and his demons are infinitely adaptable, his strategy remains ever the same: victory over the Maker, whatever the cost; the destruction of the church, however long it takes; the establishment of hell on earth. This was the adversary that Christ had to confront and conquer, and he emerged victorious in his every encounter: in the three great temptations in the wilderness; in the poor demonized men and women who accosted him regularly throughout his ministry; in those ‘works of the devil’ (disease, disability, and death) which posed him a challenge at every turn; and, above all, in the last great conflict on the cross of Calvary. Here, once and for all, Christ overthrew the dominion of Satan” (from “Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement”).
What emboldening news! The dominion of Satan has been overthrown. On the cross, Christ demonstrated and declared to the evil one (and the rest of the world): “All this is Mine! You can’t have it!”
Sure, Satan is still alive and working woe. But he can do nothing except what the Sovereign One allows. And to be sure, his days are numbered. The writing is on the wall, so to speak. Jesus has already won the victory. As Martin Luther penned in A Mighty Fortress, “The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, One little word shall fell him.”
The Savior who loves you has the power to tell the evil one to “go” and he goes. He will protect his church. And he will keep you by his grace even when all hell seems to be against you. This is his promise to us. Make no mistake: he can deliver on it. For to him belong the glory and power and dominion forever and ever amen.
Pastor John Sloan
The rest of NP News for 9.28.2017 can be found on the “This Week” page at http://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/